The proposed Downtown Bus Parking Lot would provide an off-street location for downtown San Diego transit vehicles to park in the short turnaround time they have between runs. The project would be located in the Columbia district of western downtown San Diego near America Plaza Trolley Station and the Santa Fe Train Depot, one of the region’s largest transit hubs.
The parking lot would also serve new, long-distance Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) routes that will be introduced beginning in 2014. These express transit services were approved by voters in 2004 as part of TransNet, the voter approved half-cent sales tax for San Diego region transportation projects. BRT services that terminate in western downtown are also included in the Centre City Community Plan, adopted in 2006, to reduce automobile traffic downtown and throughout the region.
SANDAG will oversee the entitlement, design, and construction of the facility, which will be operated by the Metropolitan Transit System (MTS). In the long term, SANDAG envisions an underground bus parking solution as part of a mixed-use development on the site. SANDAG and MTS will cooperate with CCDC and developers to ensure that the facility does not preclude mixed-use development possibilities in the future.
Four proposed sites are currently under consideration between Ash Street and B Street, and Kettner Boulevard and Union Street in the Columbia district.
To ensure on-time transit service for downtown riders, the Downtown Bus Parking Lot needs to be located close to downtown transit routes that terminate near the America Plaza Trolley Station and Santa Fe Train Depot. Because most buses in the facility would park for 15 minutes or less, the close location ensures that buses operate on schedule. It also minimizes operational costs and the need for additional bus circulation on surface streets downtown.
The project would accommodate existing local bus routes that currently park on the street in western downtown, thereby making more on-street parking available to residents and businesses.
The goal of the Downtown Bus Parking Lot is to free up on-street parking spaces and preserve existing spaces by providing an off-street location for buses to park between runs.
Currently, local buses park at reserved locations on downtown streets at the end of their routes, pausing for five to 15 minutes before their next scheduled service begins. This situation strains already limited downtown parking resources, creates additional congestion on local streets, and causes complaints from neighboring developments.
Number of Vehicles
The proposed facility would begin operating at 4 a.m. and close at 1 a.m., with the highest use occurring in the morning and afternoon peak commute hours. The facility is expected to accommodate up to 18 vehicles at a time and about 35 vehicles per hour during peak periods. Current traffic volumes on India Street, Kettner Boulevard, and Ash Street are approximately 4,000 vehicles per day, or 200-300 vehicles per peak hour.
Length of Layover
The facility is intended to serve as a short-term bus parking lot only. Layovers would range from a few minutes to 15 minutes per vehicle. Buses would not idle with engines running while in the parking lot.
Maintenance would not be conducted at the site, beyond light activity such as refilling windshield wiper fluid and replacing light bulbs. Additionally, no buses would be parked at the facility overnight, and no passengers would be served at the facility (buses arrive and leave empty).
In order to make sure that the facility is compatible with the surrounding mixed-use neighborhood, SANDAG will work closely with area residents and businesses to design visual screening for the facility.
SANDAG plans to conduct a complete environmental review, studying all four potential sites and other bus layover alternatives.
On April 20, 2012, SANDAG released a Notice of Preparation to prepare an Environmental Impact Report (EIR) for the project. The EIR will assess the potential environmental impacts of the project and propose mitigation, if needed. A number of sites are under consideration and will be evaluated for potential impacts in the areas of traffic, visual impacts, noise, light, air quality, and other issues.
The formal comment period for the scoping process concluded on May 20, 2012.
A public Open House Scoping Meeting was held May 7 from 4-7 p.m. at SANDAG. The public was invited to learn about the project and EIR process at a number of public information stations. The purpose of the Scoping Meeting was to seek input on issues to be studied in the EIR, and opportunities were provided to submit comments in writing or through a transcriber.
Throughout the process, SANDAG will continue to engage the public to provide information about the project, answer questions and concerns, and seek input on design elements. SANDAG hopes to complete construction of the parking facility in 2013.
Approximately $16 million has been allocated to the project from TransNet TransNet , the local half-cent sales tax for transportation.